More than half of people who commission building work have had a bad experience with their builder and the Government should introduce licensing to stamp out rogue traders, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). 

New consumer research undertaken by the FMB reveals the impact poor quality building firms are having on consumers and demonstrates that most home owners support the introduction of a mandatory licensing scheme. Key results include: 

  • Over half of people (55%) who commission home improvement work have had a negative experience with their builder; 

  • A quarter (24%) of people who commissioned home improvement work would discourage or strongly discourage family or friends from using their builder; 

  • The top ten most common problems people had with their builders include:  

  1. Poor quality work (23%) 

  1. Not turning up to site regularly (19%) 

  1. Untidiness (17%) 

  1. Problems dealing with snagging issues (unwillingness to come back and fix things) (15%) 

  1. Making mistakes and/or causing damage and refusing to put it right (12%) 

  1. Asking for all the money up front (12%) 

  1. Pushing back completion date once or more (12%) 

  1. Refusing to call back or answer emails (11%) 

  1. Attempting to drive up the price of the project after contract has been signed (10%) 

  1. Not handing over the required certificates on completion (7%) 

  • Nearly 90% of home owners believe that the Government should criminalise rogue and incompetent builders; 

  • 78% of home owners support a mandatory licensing scheme in construction to drive up quality, standards and professionalism. 

Commenting on the research, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “More than half of home owners have had a negative experience with their builder. A quarter of home owners across the country reported that they have suffered poor quality work at the hands of their builder. Some of the most common problems experienced by consumers include builders not turning up to site regularly and builders leaving their home in a mess. This cannot be allowed to continue and it is time to professionalise the construction industry from top to bottom.” 

Berry continued: “What many people don’t realise is that in the UK, anyone can set themselves up as a builder and start offering their services to consumers. Given how dangerous and expensive building work can be, this can’t be right. Nearly 80 per cent of consumers support the introduction of a mandatory licensing scheme and the same proportion of small construction firms agree. The FMB has launched an independent report which sets out how such a scheme could operate and we’re calling on the Government to act now.” 

Berry concluded: “A range of licensing schemes have existed for years in other parts of the world such as parts of the US and Australia, and in some European nations such as Germany and Denmark. In these countries, the construction industry has a far better image as there are little or no unprofessional outfits offering their services. It’s time the UK adopted a similar approach so that once and for all, we can clean up the construction industry and provide a consistently high standard of service to home owners.” 

Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, said: “When it comes to appointing a builder, home owners shouldn't have to cross their fingers in the hope that their builder will do a decent job or turn up for a day’s work. This study echoes what we know from home owners calling us here at the HomeOwners Alliance in need of help because their relationship with their builder has turned sour. That's why we support the idea of a licensing scheme to drive up levels of professionalism, service and standards across the construction industry. It’s time we cracked the problem of poor quality builders once and for all.” 

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